archeology

Carl Blegen and the Sack of Troy

Carl Blegen and the Sack of Troy

On January 27, 1887, American archaeologist Carl William Blegen was born. He is known for having unearthed evidence that supported and dated the sack of Troy recorded in Homer‘s Iliad. He worked on the site of Pylos in Greece and Troy in modern-day Turkey and directed the University of Cincinnati excavations of the mound of Hisarlik, the site of Troy, from 1932 to 1938. Blegen was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the eldest…
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Auguste Mariette and the Serapeum

Auguste Mariette and the Serapeum

On January 19, 1881, French scholar, archaeologist and Egyptologist François Auguste Ferdinand Mariette passed away. Mariette conducted major excavations throughout Egypt, revealing much about the earlier periods of Egyptian history. Sent by the Louvre, in 1850, to purchase papyruses, at Saqqara he discovered the Serapeum, the burial place of the Apis bulls, living manifestations of the god Ptah. Born at Boulogne-sur-Mer, Mariette proved to be a talented draftsman and designer, and he supplemented his…
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The Forgery of the Piltdown Man

The Forgery of the Piltdown Man

On December 18, 1912, the discovery of the skull known as Piltdown man, the first important fossil human skull ever to be unearthed in England was announced at a meeting of the Geological Society of Great Britain. The specimen, known as Piltdown man, occupied an honored place in the catalogues of fossil hominids for the next 40 years. But in 1953, thanks to some rigorous scholarly detective work, Piltdown man was revealed…
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Marc Aurel Stein and the Dunhuang Caves

Marc Aurel Stein and the Dunhuang Caves

On November 26, 1862, Hungarian-British archaeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein was born. Stein is primarily known for his explorations and archaeological discoveries in Central Asia. Stein was also an ethnographer, geographer, linguist and surveyor. His collection of books and manuscripts taken from Dunhuang caves is important for the study of the history of Central Asia and the art and literature of Buddhism. When the Dunhuang Caves, China, closed for centuries, were reopened,…
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Charles Thomas Newton and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

Charles Thomas Newton and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

On September 16, 1816, British archeologist Sir Charles Thomas Newton was born. Newton excavated sites in southwestern Turkey and disinterred the remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (at present-day Bodrum, Turkey). Newton also helped to establish systematic methods for archaeology. Charles Thomas Newton received his Masters Degree in 1840 from the Christ Church, Oxford. From the beginning of his studies, he was probably interested in…
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Michael Ventris and the Minoan Linear B

Michael Ventris and the Minoan Linear B

On July 12, 1922, English architect and linguist Michael Ventris was born. Along with John Chadwick and Alice Kober, Ventris deciphered Linear B, a previously unknown ancient script discovered at Knossos by Arthur Evans. He showed that the Minoan Linear B script was a very early form of Greek, the oldest known examples. Michael Ventris was born as the only child into a traditional army family to Edward Francis Vereker Ventris, a…
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Leo Frobenius and German Ethnography

Leo Frobenius and German Ethnography

On June 29, 1873, German ethnologist and archaeologist Leo Viktor Frobenius was born. He proposed a theory that culture evolves through stages of youth, maturity, and age. He helped to spread knowledge of West African art and culture throughout Europe. He made a series of twelve major expeditions throughout Africa, gathering knowledge of art and culture, travelling across the deserts, savannahs and rain forests of Africa and South Africa, the River Nile and…
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Francesco Scipione, Marchese di Maffei – Writer, Antiquarian, and Art Critic

Francesco Scipione, Marchese di Maffei – Writer, Antiquarian, and Art Critic

On June 1, 1675, Italian writer and art critic, author, antiquarian and humanist Francesco Scipione, marchese di Maffei was born. His publications on Etruscan antiquities stand as incunabula of Etruscology, he engaged in running skirmishes in print with his rival in the field of antiquities, Antonio Francesco Gori. Marchese di Maffei came from an influential family in Bologna. His brother was the General Alessandro Maffei, a Lieutenant General of Infantry in Bavarian service. Marchese di…
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Antonio Bosio and the Rediscovery of the Roman Catacombs

Antonio Bosio and the Rediscovery of the Roman Catacombs

On May 31, 1578, the Catacombs of Rome were discovered by accident. A sepulchral chamber was opened by some laborers digging for pozzolana earth. Ecclesiastical historian Caesar Baronius was one of the first to visit the new discovery. Fifteen years later, in December 1593, 18-year-old Antonio Bosio began a lifetime exploring the catacombs researching them for his volume, Roma Sotterranea. Antonio Bosio was born in Malta. As a young boy, he was…
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Lawrence of Arabia – The Man and the Myth

Lawrence of Arabia – The Man and the Myth

On May 19, 1935, archaeologist and British Army officer Thomas Edward Lawrence died fatally injured in a motorcycle accident in Dorset. Renowned especially for his liaison role during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, and the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18. The breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia. “All men dream: but not…
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